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Monday, 13 February 2017

It's February 13th!

Today has been a special day for me. It's that one that comes around, with unfailing regularity, every year on this date! Yes, today I have been celebrating my birthday. I have been blessed by good wishes from the UK (mostly Scotland!); from France; from Germany; from Canada; from New Zealand; and even from the United Arab Emirates.  Many of the greetings have been from former pupils at Lesmahagow High School - and many of them remembered that this is not my "birthday", but the anniversary thereof! It's always good to know that they remember something of what I taught them - even if it doesn't have anything, directly, to do with the regular lessons!

However, this is the second birthday anniversary that I have celebrated this year - the first one being just a few days ago. Today, I celebrate the anniversary of my physical birth; on February 9th, I celebrated the anniversary of my spiritual birth, when I was "born again" in the terms of the words of the Lord Jesus to a man named Nicodemus, as recorded in the New Testament Scriptures: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." (Jn.3:3).

My physical birth set me off on this journey that we call 'life'. It's a journey - as my former pupils may recall - that has lasted twenty-seven years ... ... ... and a few months (okay, it is now quite a few months!). It's been a varied life in which I have been wonderfully blessed in so many different ways. I was born to parents who loved me, cared for me, and often sacrificed their own comfort for mine. I received an excellent education so that I could read, write, count and, perhaps most importantly, think for myself! I was raised in a God-fearing environment; I was encouraged in all that I tried to do.

Then, I eventually "flew the nest" - but I saw a great deal of the world during my time in the British Merchant Navy. I moved on to tertiary education. I found the most wonderful girl in the world, and she agreed to become my wife. She gave me two beautiful daughters. She has been my faithful companion and friend for decades - encouraging me, caring for me, loving me; and she is still the most important human being in my life.

I have had three full-time careers - and dabbled in so much else from radio broadcasting to legal representation (and I never lost a case!!!).  Yes, my physical life has been varied, interesting, exciting - and has had its mixture of joy and sadness.

So what about my spiritual birth? Well, when I accepted that I am a sinner and unable, in my own strength, to do anything about it; when I accepted that the sacrificial death of Jesus, the Christ, cancelled all of my sin; when I came to Him, in repentance and faith; I became an adopted child of the Creator and Sustainer of all that is. I received that forgiveness that so many seek.

As an adopted child of the living God, I also have eternal life - that is, His own life in me, here and now! I have had a great life as a disciple of Jesus. Oh, I have often let Him down - but He has never let me down! However, the best is yet to come. When I "shuffle off this mortal coil" - either by my physical death, or by my being "... caught up in the clouds ... ... to meet the Lord in the air; ..." (I Thessalonians 4:17), I shall then spend eternity - which is not "endless time", but "timelessness" - in the presence of Almighty God, praising and glorifying "... the Lamb Who was slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev.13:8). And there shall be no "... mourning, nor crying, nor pain ..." (Rev.21:4).

I wonder how many birthday celebrations you have, each year? Each of us has one - but it's the second one that decides our eternal destiny. May you come to Him, "... the author and finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb.12:2).

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